Square Shooters® Inventor Playing It Forward

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Grandma-preneur Encourages Aspiring Game Designers with Invention Contest

Why didn't I think of that? It’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue when they see something new that seems like such an obvious and overdue invention. Lots of people have ideas, but only a few find a way to bring them to life. When Carmelyn Calvert, an empty-nest grandmother from Eldred, IL, had an idea, she ran with it. Her idea had that “Why didn’t I think of that?” cache. She invented a new game that’s been centuries in the making: she put a full deck of playing cards on dice. Square Shooters® is the name of Carmelyn’s game.

Grandma Earns a Patent and Gets a Publishing Deal

Carmelyn had the simple thought that 9 dice have 54 surfaces, which matches a full deck of cards with 2 jokers. But she knew that was not enough. “I knew that to be marketable, cards-on-dice had to actually be able to play the most popular card games,” Carmelyn says. “That means the dice had to be able to achieve the goals of games like poker and rummy—otherwise they would just be a novelty.” She got to work. In a single night, she scripted the layout in the only possible manner that allows dice rolls to achieve the card hand combinations for those games and more. In 2011, Carmelyn was issued a patent for her creative combination of cards and dice.

In 2010, Carmelyn signed an exclusive, global licensing agreement with Heartland Consumer Products, LLC., the Cleveland-based game maker. Together, they designed a game to feature Carmelyn’s cards-on-dice, and Square Shooters was born. With a popular “poker-matching” theme, the game continues to grow and expand throughout the U.S. Square Shooters is sold in more than 12,000 stores nationwide including Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Dillards, and Go! Games.

Playing it Forward

Now, as Square Shooters rolls into more prominence, Carmelyn and Heartland want to pay their success forward by setting the stage for aspiring game designers. It’s difficult to publish a product idea. Lately it seems that more and more people are finding creative ways to take their ideas to the next level. Look at all of the contestants on the hit show “Shark Tank.” It’s clear that inventors often need creative help to take their ideas further. Knowing this, Heartland and Carmelyn came up with their own unique way to help.

“The dice are a gaming system, not just one game,” Carmelyn explains. “Like a deck of cards, you can create a lot of games to play with the dice. We decided to let aspiring game designers tell us how they like to play with these dice. So, Heartland hosted a contest with a $2,000 Grand Prize and they will publish the winning concept.”

A New Game Inventor is Crowned

The Square Shooter’s “That’s How I Roll!®” game design contest took place in October 2013 and 75 different game designs were submitted. Carmelyn, Heartland and a panel of independent expert judges evaluated the games.

After several weeks and multiple rounds of judging, Heartland is happy to announce Mr. Ryan Strong of Springville, Utah as the contest winner. Mr. Strong submitted a game called “Nine Shooter Quickdraw”. The game features the Square Shooters dice in a fast-paced head-to-head battle where players try to out-shoot each other’s poker hands. The game is posted here on the Square Shooters design forum: forums.squareshooters.com/discussion/88/nine-shooter-quickdraw-contest-entry.

“There were so many great games,” said Carmelyn. “Judging was a huge challenge. You hear it all the time, but we were sad that some of the games couldn’t win the Grand Prize.” The Grand Prize winner, the category winners, and all other entries are posted on the Square Shooters game design forum at forums.squareshooters.com.

Watch for a formal introduction of the new game from Heartland at the International Toy Fair held in New York City in February 2014.

About Heartland Consumer Products, LLC

“Bringing People Together” is a mission that Cleveland-based Heartland Consumer Products aspires to achieve through products that fuel the fun when families and friends get together. For more information or to interact with the company, visit

  •     Web: http://www.squareshooters.com
  •     Design Forum: forums.squareshooters.com
  •     Facebook: /squareshooters
  •     Twitter: @squareshooters

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Square Shooters® is a registered trademark of Carmelyn Calvert. The Square Shooters® game is copyrighted by Carmelyn Calvert. Both trademark and copyright are under license by Heartland Consumer Products, LLC That’s How I Roll!® is a registerd trademark of Heartland Consumer Products, LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

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Amber Dickens
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